West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has flagged keeping some strict interstate border controls in place after the COVID-19 pandemic is over in a bid to reduce the importation of drugs.
Mr McGowan said he was in discussions with WA Police commissioner Chris Dawson about what measures would be legal, including vehicle searches and potentially even recording personal details.
“We obviously have a significant reduction in meth usage in Western Australia and part of that, of course, is the measures we’ve already taken with the meth action plan, but also the border measures,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“So the police commissioner and I will continue to talk about what can be done to protect the state from the scourge of meth and other drugs, and if necessary we’ll look at measures we can bring should we be re-elected.”
Mr McGowan said a reduction in drug use was a very welcome side-effect of the border controls.
“If we can work out how we can keep that reduction in drug use in place within the law, that’s something the commissioner and I will work on,” he said.
Asked if the G2G pass system would continue to be a requirement, Mr McGowan said he could not predict exactly what would be implemented.
“On the border, we have staff who check for bananas and avocados,” he said.
“Surely we can have people there checking for meth as well.
“If some people — civil libertarians and the like — don’t like that, my argument would be that keeping meth out of Western Australia is very, very important.”
The High Court ruled in November that the state’s hard border was legal but only because of the pandemic.
Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup said Mr McGowan’s idea would “treat every Aussie visiting WA as a meth trafficker”.
“This is just a taste of what could happen if Labor get total control (in parliament),” Mr Kirkup tweeted.
“This is why we need a strong Liberal party to keep the checks and balances.
“We support strong borders and we support the chief health officer’s advice to respond to COVID, but the best way to respond to meth is with tougher laws and more police.
“We are all Australian and we should have the freedom to travel in our own country without being treated like a criminal.”
The Labor government is seemingly on track for a landslide election victory on March 13, with Mr Kirkup conceding the Liberals cannot win.
Mr McGowan and his wife Sarah cast their ballots at an early voting centre on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, WA did not record any new cases of coronavirus overnight.
It leaves the total number of infections at 913, including three active cases.
More than 2800 people have received their first dose of the vaccine since the program was launched last week.